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Insulation Problems

What is insulation?

Insulation refers to the use of special materials to restrict the flow of energy or matter from one side of the insulation material to the other. In the domestic context, insulation is used to protect electrical wiring to prevent shocks, in HVAC systems to reduce the loss of heat or cold, in plumbing to reduce heat loss as hot water travel from the boiler to the faucet and in construction to limit the amount of external heat or cold that enters the home. Read below where Experts have answered a wide range of questions on insulation problems.

I have R19 insulation in my attic, will adding another R19 layer over it reduce the heat loss significantly?

R30 insulation is required for all new construction in the north of the country and is recommended in most other parts. This indicates that your R19 insulation is inadequate, unless you live in the deep south, and adding another layer will reduce heat loss. If you have fiberglass at present ensure that you use unfaced fiberglass batts for the new layer. Please check if you are eligible for tax credits for the additional insulation.

In terms of health and safety, what are the best choices for insulation cavity walls and ceilings, to reduce toxic substances from entering a home?

There are pros and cons for every insulation material. Here are some insulation types you can chose from, with a focus on any toxicity issues. Polyester tends to out gas light hydro carbons which are not dangerous unless you are severely allergic to them. In the case of flame rated polyester there is a chance of out gassing of the fire retardant chemicals. Fiberglass is generally regarded as being nontoxic but some brands do contain phenol. Insulation made of finely chopped newspaper is among the least toxic but it has fire rating issues. Insulation made from natural materials is generally nontoxic but things like sheep wool and cotton butts also have fire code issues and when fire retardants are used out gassing can occur. Insulation made from cork and natural fibers has the danger of mold infestation. The best option and solution to your insulation problems may be for you may be to use fiberglass in closed envelopes.

Why is there moisture in the insulation of the ducting on my air conditioning unit?

When warm air comes into contact with the cold surface of the ducts it condenses and water is releases in the same way water forms on the outside of a cold glass of water on a hot day. It appears that your insulation is not airtight and is allowing air to come into contact with the ducts. Check for any punctures in the insulation and patch them. Also cover all the seams with foil tape to prevent air from entering.

What causes the insulation on the copper pipes on my heat pump to melt? Is it dangerous? What Should I do?

In the cooling mode the large refrigerant pipe gets very cold and will sweat water into your home. It is possible that your pipe is covered with “No Drip Tape” to control this. However, when in heating mode the situation is reversed and the pipes becomes hot. This can cause the tape to melt. It is not dangerous and will not damage the heat pump. But the solution is to use the black spongy closed cell wrap that is used for insulating hot and cold water pipes. This will be available at most hardware stores.

The insulation of my Goodman U-60 evaporator is damaged and I am told Goodman does not use this type of insulation any more. What are my options for replacing it?

There are 2 solutions to this kind of insulation problem. First, you can go to an HVAC supply shop and buy the amount of insulation you need. Check to ensure it is of the same thickness as the original as thicknesses vary. You can also buy spray adhesive to fix the new insulation in place after the old material is removed and the surface cleaned. Alternatively, you can insulate the outside of the evaporator casing which is a simpler job. Buy outside duct insulation from the HVAC shop, wrap it around the casing and silver tape it together.

Proper insulation is essential to prevent shocks and electrical fires, to keep the water in your pipes hot and to make the performance of a HVAC system effective. Insulation is a complex subject with different types of insulation for specific applications. If you have insulation problems and are unsure of how to deal with them, getting the advice of an Expert is the safest and most productive way to resolve the issues.
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